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The Secret Ninjas

Published: 07 March 2016

Updated: 05 February 2016

hese rare factory styling sketches show the options Kawasaki were weighing up for the ZX-12R Ninja in 1998, two years before the launch. It’s easy to spot one they chose, although its fairing fins remained unused until the ZZ-R1400 in 2006. Some of the rejects look strangely BMW.

Intriguingly, Kawasaki once embarked on a project to use the engine developed from the original 900R, the ZZ-R1100, in an open-wheel track day car.

“The GPZ900R’s engine designer, Kohei Yamada, came to the UK to meet the race car industry: March, Reynard, Hewland, even Rolls Royce,” remembered Kawasaki USA’s Alex Dell. “They were hoping to put together a race series. Unfortunately the project slumped as a result of the recession in the early 1990s.”

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